Note: This guidance
is no longer in effect and is for historical purposes only. For more
information on masking, see the Get
the Most Out of Masking: Tips & Resources.
Effective May 11, 2023 the CDC will no longer calculate the COVID-19 Community Levels as a result of the sunsetting of the federal public health emergency. As a result, CDPH is sunsetting its Guidance for the Use of Face Masks and is recommending all Californians consider the following:
In addition, wearing a mask is increasingly important for those that are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19, and as the risk for transmission increases in the community:
Local health jurisdictions and other entities may have requirements in specific settings based on local circumstances.
For more tips and resources for face masks, visit the CDPH resource hub here: Get the Most Out of Masking (ca.gov).
Related Materials: Masking Q&A | Masking Fact Sheet (PDF) | Face Mask Tips and Resources | Face Shields Q&A (PDF) | Safe Schools for All Hub | All Guidance | More Languages
With the end of the California COVID-19 State of Emergency, it is appropriate to revise our current masking framework. California’s path forward will be predicated on our individual, smarter actions that will collectively yield better outcomes for our neighborhoods, communities, and state.
Consistent with the SMARTER Plan and our adaptation of the SarsCoV-2 virus in our lives, California is updating its masking guidance. Effective April 3, 2023, the updated guidance is intended to provide information that each Californian should consider based on their unique circumstances. The updated guidance is unchanged for general community settings and continues to use a framework based on the CDC COVID-19 Community Levels. The updated guidance replaces mandatory masking requirements in high-risk settings with recommendations, which are also based on the CDC COVID-19 Community Levels.
Persons may use information about the current CDC COVID-19 community levels in their county to guide which prevention behaviors to use and when (at all times or at specific times) based on their own risk for severe illness and that of members of their household, their risk tolerance, and setting-specific factors. COVID-19 community levels are based on hospitalization rates, hospital bed occupancy, and COVID-19 incidence during the preceding period.
Masks are especially important in settings where vulnerable people are residing or being cared for, and increasingly important as the risk for transmission increases in the community. Health care facilities and other high-risk setting operators should develop and implement their own facility-specific plans based on their community, patient population, and other facility considerations incorporating CDPH and CDC recommendations.
Regardless of the COVID-19 community levels, CDPH recommends:
There is lower community spread and impact on healthcare system of COVID-19
People can wear a mask based on personal preference, informed by their own personal level of risk.
Consider wearing a mask in crowded indoor public places.
If you are a vulnerable person* or live with a vulnerable person*, consider taking additional precautions.
There is medium community spread and impact on healthcare system of COVID-19
Consider wearing a mask in indoor public places.
Wearing a mask is recommended in crowded indoor public places.
If you have household or social contact with a vulnerable person*, wearing a mask is recommended when indoors with them
There is high community spread and impact on healthcare system of COVID-19
Wearing a mask is recommended in indoor public places.
Wearing a mask is strongly recommended in indoor public places.
If you have household or social contact with a vulnerable person*, wearing a mask is recommended when indoors with them.
*Those that are vulnerable include the unvaccinated, those that are immunocompromised, have certain disabilities, or have underlying health conditions, and those
at risk of severe illness of death if they are infected with COVID-19. Such persons should consider taking extra precautions.
**High-risk settings include:
Facilities that are high-risk settings should make respirators (e.g., N95s, KN95s, KF94s) with good fit or surgical masks available to any residents and staff who would like to use them.
In workplaces, employers and employees are subject to either the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations or the
Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) PDF Standard and should consult those regulations for additional applicable requirements. In certain healthcare situations or settings and other covered facilities, services and operations, surgical masks (or higher filtration masks) are required.
Finally, no person can be prevented from wearing a mask as a condition of participation in an activity or entry into a venue or business (including schools or childcare), unless wearing a mask would pose a safety hazard. All businesses and venue operators are encouraged to improve ventilation and air quality in their facility to prevent airborne respiratory infections and improve indoor air quality.
For additional information on the most effective types of masks and ensuring a well-fitted mask for adults, individuals should refer to CDPH
Get the Most out of Masking and see
CDPH Masking Guidance Frequently Asked Questions. For additional information on the most effective types of masks and ensuring a well-fitted mask for children, individuals should refer to
CDPH Masks for Kids: Tips and Resources. For additional considerations for children and masking in childcare settings, see COVID-19 Guidance for Child Care Providers and Programs. For references on the effectiveness of masks and respirators, see CDC Science Brief: Community Use of Masks to Control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2.
Originally published on November 16, 2020